Hidden Track Editorial: How Ticketmaster is Getting Social Backwards

I see it working like this: Get as many of your Facebook friends to commit to this event as possible before the tickets go on sale, with no limit to the number of people you can include. Many events have ticket limits of four or eight, which supposedly is a deterrent to scalping, but won’t matter in this scenario. Here, ticketing priority automatically is given to those who participated in the Facebook integration by putting together a group of friends.

Sounds like a scalper’s dream: create a bunch of fake Facebook accounts and get priority access to tickets. But not if this was for a paperless ticketing system where credit cards or proof of identification were needed to be shown to enter the concert. I personally think that events that are 100% paperless are a pain the ass. Any number of scenarios can create a hassle: What if you have to cancel last minute, what if you want to gift a ticket to someone, etc? Instead, I am all for a plan which would allow customers to opt-in to this process to secure a group of tickets together. Under my plan, the benefit of this system – deterring scalpers – would outweigh the potential inconveniences of paperless ticketing. Tickets could be contingent upon a code only accessible via a person’s Facebook account and a matching ID presented at the door.

The way the system was launched seems to only work for very slow-selling not sold-out shows. If a friend buys tickets in Section 204, Row 11 seats 7 and 8, I would love to buy seats 9 and 10 directly next to him if they are available – but this will only work well after the initial on sale when hundreds of tickets are not being gobbled up by the second. If you’re not directly next to your friends it is arguably more frustrating to have them nearby but not next to you. “Oh, hey, there’s my friend Andy, I’d love to tell him share something, but he’s 20 seats away.”

My mind races at the positive benefits this dream system would enable. What if instead of the first ten rows at arena rock concerts being filled with those willing to spend a premium on the secondary ticket market, they were filled with large groups of the band’s biggest fans, those that got a group together and put in their request before tickets went on sale? What if scalpers could no longer use their sneaky (and potentially illegal) methods to snatch up the best tickets and resell them to you at a premium? What if this service was offered up at no additional cost but instead, customers actually felt like they were receiving something of value for the 20-30 percent convenience fees tacked on to every ticket.

Ticketmaster wants to brand itself as a more fan-friendly company but it has a long way to go. Basically, everyone hates Ticketmaster. I am intrigued and maybe even a little excited that it is trying to embrace social in a way that enhances the fan’s experience. I think it got it backwards. Build a system allowing all of this to take place before the dreaded on sale, instead of after the fact, and watch massive networks of friends commit to buying tickets, the best tickets, and you’ll know it’s them that are in the seats. Bands will know it’s their best fans in the front row and while we’re at we’ll fuck the scalpers too.

What do you think of the system DaveO proposed? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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7 Responses

  1. nice article. very interesting idea.

    one question: wouldn’t you still have the same problem in the case of someone who ends up not being able to go?

  2. I dig it!
    But I think there are a few things left unanswered:

    1) Which Facebook group gets first priority? Does the largest group win, followed by the next largest? Say I have a group of 20 friends, but it’s nowhere near the groups of 150, 120, 90, 70, 50, 30, 30, 30 and 25. That puts me pretty far back, I’d assume.

    2) How do you determine the best seats? Sure, up front would be great! But after that fills up the first dozen rows, maybe I’d want my group on lower-level, or first row balcony?

    Something to think about…
    3) I’m in a group of 50 people who I “know” from a message board. But I REALLY want to sit next to Tom, Dick, and Harry. How do I choose? Also, we really like sitting on the aisle, and not the middle.

  3. Thanks Jon.

    Yep, absolutely, it’s certainly not perfect. I do think it’s better than 100% of an event being forced paperless ticketing. Maybe there even would be an opportunity to toss the tickets to someone else assuming they were a Facebook friend…would open up the idea to some potential gaming the system though for sure.

  4. Hey Ringus,

    All great questions.

    1) Priority is an interesting question for sure. Could be random, could be largest group, could be some sort of loyalty whether it’s to the program or to the performer…

    2) Another good one. I certainly don’t think the best seat is always the front row, we all know that often times mezzanines and balconies are the pro move.

    3) Alright now you’re just getting greedy! I kid. I mean, really if you’re in a group of 50 people – all you need to know is your range of locations and just have the 50 of you occupy that space. If you have 4 tickets together to a show as it is now, people don’t worry about sitting in their assigned seat.

  5. Nice idea:

    What is missing is a way to eliminate that mad dash for tickets as they get gobbled up. At the end of the day, tickets end up on Stubhub for more or less than face.

    What I’d like to see is them integrate MusicToday fan clubs into the mix. They already have an in with the fan who pays for pre-sale rights. Ticketmaster should show the “true” fans that they value them, and give them, and not the highest bidder, priority to tickets.

  6. Most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Johnny friends from Facebook get first crack at the best seats in the house for face value, then half of his Facebook freiends can’t come up with $300 plus per ticket for what ticketmaster charges at face value six to eight months before the concert is held. Layaway is not an option here fellas. Tickets go on sale to the general public and are fair game for everyone to buy at face value. Get your friends together and buy them when they go on sale like the rest of us do. Coming from a huge fan!!

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